Jackrabbits’ football player dies early Sunday morning

Michelle Herrick

Michelle Herrick

A 19-year-old SDSU student died early Sunday morning.

Donnie Parsons, a redshirt running back from Omaha, Neb., was taken by ambulance to the hospital early Sunday morning, where he later died.

Parsons, who lived in Young Hall, was a sophomore business law major.

The football coaches called a special meeting at 2:45 p.m. Sunday to inform the team what had happened to Parsons, according to Chris Bos, a Jackrabbit defensive end.

“They told us he died from a severe asthma attack,” Bos said. “He went to the hospital sometime between 3:45 a.m. and 4 a.m. on Sunday.”

Bos said he thought Parsons had called 911 himself.

SDSU and the Brookings County coroner’s office have not released an official cause of death to the press or public.

“His roommate was with him and he left for awhile and came back and they (the paramedics) were taking Donnie to the hospital,” Bos said.

The Jackrabbits had just returned from a game Saturday with Winona State University in Minnesota.

The team was given Sunday off from practice to reflect and talk with each other.

“We’re a family,” said head coach John Stiegelmeier. “Donnie was a fun-loving guy. He was the type of person that people were comfortable around. He was also a bit of a joker. He was a little guy stature-wise for college football, but he had a big heart.”

Tricia Berens, a senior business and economics major, took a friend to the Brookings Hospital Sunday morning between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m.

“The football coach was there and about five other guys,” Berens said. “Some of the guys were crying.”

Vice-President Michael Reger confirmed that the hospital was going to try to airlift Parsons to Sioux Falls.

Freddy Ellis, who plays a corner on the football team, was at the hospital that morning.

“Donnie was a great person, just a great dude,” Ellis said. “He made everybody laugh.”

Parsons made his collegiate playing debut in Saturday’s game, playing on special teams.

Parsons attended Omaha Benson High School and was a three-year letterwinner. He earned all-division first-team honors as a quarterback his senior season. He rushed for 800 yards and 14 touchdowns, while passing for 700 yards and 11 touchdowns.

“Donnie Parsons is a winner in every sense of the word,” Stiegelmeier said in a press release.

“Our sincere sympathy goes out to his family and to all his loved ones.”

Parsons is survived by his mother, Shirdene Davis, and a brother, Dontae Davis.

A memorial service will be help Mon., Sept. 22 at 6 p.m. at the University Lutheran Center.

Condolences can be sent to 4916 Bedford St. Omaha, NE., 68104.

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